Famous winter storms

April 13-18, 2018

A late-season Thunder Blizzard served up a reminder that winter can pay Minnesota another visit late in the season. This storm produced everything from thunderstorm wind damage to prolonged blizzard and whiteout conditions.

The storm came in three distinct rounds, each separated by anywhere between four and eight hours. In the Twin Cities, the snowfall total of 15.8 inches was the largest to occur so late in the season, broke the storm-total accumulation record for April, and made April 2018 the snowiest April on record.

Additionally, by holding temperatures to the 20s or very low 30s during Saturday and Sunday, the storm enabled St. Cloud, Duluth, Rochester, and the Twin Cities to break records for the lowest high temperature of the day.

Dec. 10-11, 2010

This blizzard will be remembered as the final Domebuster Storm. At 17.1 inches it was the largest snowstorm on record for December, and the fifth largest in the Twin Cities going back to 1891.

This was an enormous storm and blanketed central and southern Minnesota with 4 to 12 inches of snow. Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport reported heavy snow with a quarter-of-a-mile visibility or less for five hours straight from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 11 and was closed for four hours with this storm. Snow was difficult to shovel and move because of the fairly high water content.

Feb. 28-March 2, 2007

Blizzard brings over 20 inches of snow and winds exceeding 50 mph to the Duluth area. The blizzard came on the heels of another major winter storm that plodded through the Upper Midwest and dropped over two feet of snow on southeastern Minnesota from Feb. 23-26. The Duluth area received over 12 inches of snow in this first event. National Weather Service summary of this storm

Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 1991

THE Halloween Blizzard. Over 28 inches at MSP, nearly 37 inches at Duluth. Nasty wind chill conditions, deep snow drifts harsh on wildlife, many roads closed for days. Perhaps one of the largest and longest lasting blizzards in state history.

Jan. 6-8, 1989

One of the worst-ever blizzards in the Red River Valley delivered up to 26 inches of snow. Roads closed, 50 mph winds. Set up flooding.

Nov. 26, 1988

Blizzard struck again over most of the state this time. Winds reached 63 mph at Windom, snow drifts up to 7 feet high. Snowfalls up to 14 inches in east central Minnesota.

Nov. 16, 1988

Near-blizzard conditions in northern counties with 11 inches of snow in International Falls.

March 3-4, 1985

Blizzard with 6 to 24 inches of snowfall. Duluth reported winds to 90 mph and huge multi-story drifts. Schools in International Falls closed.

Feb. 4, 1984

Blizzard in southern Minnesota with severe wind to 80 mph caused a wall of white, even though snowfall totals were only a few inches. Severe wind chills. Many stranded in vehicles or fish houses, Sixteen people died.

Nov. 19, 1981

Heavy snow with near-blizzard conditions. Over a foot of wet snow caused the inflated fabric of the Metrodome to collapse and rip.

Nov. 10-11, 1975

A severe winter storm with 71 mph winds created 12- to 15-foot waves on Lake Superior, sank the Edmund Fitzgerald. Storm intensified as it moved over the area.

March 23-24, 26-29, 1975

Multiple blizzards in northern Minnesota. 100 mph winds, 20-foot waves on Lake Superior damaged shoreline properties, zero visibility near Duluth, which received one foot of snow from each storm.

Jan. 10-12, 1975

Perhaps one of the worst blizzards and strongest storms: closed most roads in the state, some for 11 days; 20-foot drifts; one to two feet of snow; train stuck at Willmar; 15,000 head of livestock lost; many low barometric pressure records set (28.55 at Duluth); winds to 80 mph; storm intensified over the state; 14 people died in blizzard and 21 more from heart attacks.

Dec. 31, 1972

New Year's Eve blizzard halted many celebrations and activities.

Jan. 24, 1972

Fierce blizzard in southwest Minnesota with 72 mph winds at Worthington. Up to 10 inches of snow, schools closed but buses stranded. Many sought shelter in farm homes.

December 1968 - January 1969

One of the stormiest winters with six separate blizzard warnings in the state and total snowfalls ranging from 30 to 50 inches in northern counties from the six storms.

Jan. 16, 1967

A short-lived, fast-moving blizzard resulted in seven deaths statewide, some from snow shoveling.

March 2-5, 1966

Severe blizzard hit South Dakota, North Dakota and northwest Minnesota the hardest. It was a long-duration event with 20 to 30 inches of snow reported, along with 70 mph winds at times. Eighteen people were killed with this storm, including four in Minnesota. Tens of thousands of livestock also perished. Transportation in the hardest hit areas became impossible with drifts from 30 to 40 feet.

One iconic photograph in the aftermath of this storm is of North Dakota DOT employee Bill Koch standing next to power lines with his hat on level with the wires.

Nov. 28, 1960

Severe storm and blizzard, dubbed a nor'eastern hammered the Lake Superior shoreline, producing 20- to 40-foot waves which destroyed shoreline property. Three feet of water flood the streets of Grand Marais, Minnesota. Winds gusted to 73 mph and Duluth recorded over one foot of snowfall. Thousands of cords of pulpwood washed into Lake Superior.

Nov. 17-18, 1958

Blizzard with 60 mph winds, 33 men died with the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley on Lake Michigan.

Dec. 5-8, 1950

Blizzard in northern Minnesota delivered 25.2 inches of snow to Duluth.

March 14-15, 1941

Terrible blizzard in western counties: 85 mph winds at Grand Forks, 75 mph winds at Duluth, 32 deaths (footnote: terrible blizzards of the winter of 1940-1941 prompted the Weather Service to refine the forecast regional responsibilities; Minnesota formerly under the jurisdiction of Chicago office acquired responsibilities to dictate own forecast and procedures.)

Nov. 11, 1940

Armistice Day Blizzard, mild day to start, hunting season in full swing, 17 inches of snow MSP, 27 inches at Collegeville, duck hunters unprepared and exposed on Mississippi River islands, 49 deaths, plus 59 sailors lost on Great Lakes. Slow moving system which intensified.

Nov. 11-12, 1933

Dust storm in southern and central counties, visibility near zero, blizzard in northwest counties.

Feb. 12-14, 1923

Black dust blizzard occurred blowing in dirty snow from North Dakota.

Feb. 21-23, 1922

An ice storm followed by a blizzard.

Jan. 16, 1921

Blizzard conditions in northern counties with 59 mph winds and blowing soil in southern Minnesota counties.

Oct. 19-20, 1916

One of the earliest blizzards, with up to 15 inches of snow in western counties, and a 50-degree F temperature drop.

Nov. 9-11, 1913

One of the worst November storms ever on the Great Lakes. Blizzard in northern Minnesota, 62 mph winds at Duluth, three ships lost on Lake Superior.

Nov 27-28, 1905

Another blizzard at Duluth with 60 mph winds. Sank ships in Lake Superior.

Nov. 26, 1896

Famous Thanksgiving Day storm: rain and thunderstorms in southern Minnesota, snow and blizzard in North Dakota and central and northern Minnesota counties. People were caught traveling for the holiday. Severe cold wave as Pokegama Dam went down to -45 degree F.

Jan. 31, 1893

Blizzard at Park Rapids, Minn., temperature drop of 40 degrees F in less than five hours.

March 8-9, 1892

One of Duluth's worst blizzards. 70 mph winds, blinding snow piled drifts over 20 feet high, blocking second story windows in some buildings.

Jan. 12-13, 1888

Started as a mild day, children in school, people working outside. Abrupt cold wave struck with blinding snow, temperature fell to -37 degrees F. Children sent home early from school, but many died. Deaths totaled 200 in perhaps Minnesota's worst blizzard. Predated one of the east coast's worst blizzards which struck two months later in March.

Oct. 16, 1880

Earliest blizzard in Minnesota, struck SW and WC counties. Huge drifts exceeding 20 feet in the Canby area last until the next spring

Jan. 7-10, 1873

Started as a mild day, people active outside, then blizzard struck: drastic temperature drop, 70 deaths, hundreds of cattle lost, trains stuck for days in high drifts.

March 14-16, 1870

Blizzard struck northern Iowa and southwest Minnesota with up to 16 inches of snowfall. First use of the term "blizzard" (from boxing, meaning volley of punches) by the Estherville, Iowa Vindicator newspaper. The term blizzard was not used by the U.S. Signal Corps Weather Service until 1876.

Nov. 8, 1870

First winter storm warning was issued by the U.S. Army Signal Corps

Feb. 13-15, 1866

Arguably one of the worst blizzards in Minnesota history: lasted three days, with drifts up to 20 feet that buried barns in western counties; struck at night, so deaths were reduced.

Nov. 10, 1835

Severe storms caused 19 shipwrecks on Great Lakes. 254 sailors died.


Harsh winters:

Late January-February 2019

Just when it looked like the winter of 2018-19 was going to be a wimpy one, Mother Nature packed in a "classic winter" in 30 days. The kick off was the cold outbreak of January 27-31. The Twin Cities had its coldest temperature since February 1996. with a low temperature of -28 degrees F. Baudette saw -51 degrees F. February is not typically known as a snowy month. February 2019 was different. The Twin Cities total of 39 inches broke the old record of 26.5 inches by over a foot.

There were five calendar days of at least 4 inches of snow. A typical winter usually sees two or three such events. Rochester also set its record of 40 inches, St. Cloud had 27.6 inches. This was also the snowiest February on record at 47 of Minnesota's older National Weather Service cooperative observing stations, from all corners of the state.


Winter of 2013-2014 held many noteworthy parts, including 53 nights of at- or below-zero temperatures in the Twin Cities. This winter also tied for fifth place for the number of times the mercury dipped at or below zero in the Twin Cities for winters going back to 1872-73.

International Falls had 92 nights of at- or below-zero readings, to tie with 1977-1978 for the most ever. Another measure was the extremely cold wind chill temperatures. Jan 6 recorded the coldest wind chill temperature at -48 in the Twin Cities 6 and -63 degrees at the Grand Marais Airport for the state. The winter of 2013-2014 will be one to compare to for many years to come.


  • Nov. 16-17, 1996: Blizzard in northwest and west central
  • Dec. 17-19, 1997: Blizzard in western and southern counties
  • Dec. 20-21, 1997: Blizzard in northwest
  • Dec. 23, 1997: Blizzard in west central
  • Dec. 31, 1997: New Year's Eve Blizzard in northwest
  • Jan. 4-5, 1997: Blizzard in west central
  • Jan. 9-10, 1997: Blizzard in western and southern counties
  • Jan. 15-16, 1997: Blizzard in west central
  • Jan. 21-22, 1997: Blizzard in west central
  • March 4, 1997: Blizzard in west central
  • April 5-6, 1997: Blizzard in west central during flood fight.
  • Total seasonal snowfall at Fargo-Moorhead: 117 inches, setting up worst flooding ever.


  • Dec. 8, 1995: Blizzard in west central
  • Jan. 10, 1996: Blizzard in west central
  • Jan. 17-18, 1996: Blizzard in southwest Minnesota
  • Jan. 26-29, 1996: Blizzard in southern and west central
  • Feb. 10-11, 1996: Blizzard in northern counties (Governor closed schools)
  • March 23-25, 1996: Blizzard in northern and central counties (Highway10 closed)


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